The days and hours after my Mom went to be with Jesus in September, 2014 was a very difficult time for me. Nicole and I got the news that she passed away while driving from our home in San Mateo to Bakersfield. We were racing down to see her before she died but didn’t make it in time. We decided stay and spend some time in Bakersfield grieving with my mom’s husband Mike and his daughter Dani.
I vividly remember being in a Bakersfield Target store some 48 hours after she had passed. We had just walked in to buy some things and I was walking past a display of Gatorade and I distinctly heard the word “DEPRESSION” and I heard it very differently than ever before. I felt like the enemy was telling me that is where I was headed. I had seen almost everyone I love struggle with depression – my mom, my dad and my biological father, Frank. Frank had such severe depression after the death of his mother that his psychiatrist suggested he move from Minnesota to sunny Southern California after spending days and days in bed mourning her death. Even my wife, Nicole, struggled with depression a few years into our marriage. My Dad’s depression had even contributed to my parent’s divorce.
I believe the enemy was looking for the knock out punch. Could my mom’s illness and passing push me into depression? For 9 years, the enemy had been trying, unsuccessfully by the grace of God, to blow up my life and my marriage with Nicole.
As I look back now, I see clearly the events that could have derailed me:
2005 — Nicole and I start fighting about money and are terribly miserable newlyweds.
2006 — My uncle Mike dies, unexpectedly from a heart attack. I was estranged from him for several years before his death over a $10,000 dispute.
2007 — My Dad dies, again, unexpectedly from a heart attack while he is alone at his boat in San Pedro. We spent days looking for him only for divers from the San Pedro police to find his body under the marina dock on my 35th birthday.
2009 — My biological father, Frank, dies unexpectedly from a heart attack.
In addition to the deaths of the three father figures in my life, countless financial issues continued to plague me during this time and I realize now I was in the middle of an identity crisis – I was trying to be someone who God had not created me to be.
But God, this almighty God who created 350 Billion galaxies in one sentence, saved me.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”
All of the sadness from the deaths of my family members came to a head with the passing of my Mom in 2014. In the immediate aftermath, my sleep patterns changed and I was struggling sleeping yet I clung to God’s promises like they were as vital to me as oxygen. I was often up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning pouring over my Bible. I also made it a point to grieve my Mom’s death. I took part in a Grief Share group that helped me to feel all the horrible feelings that come along with losing your Mom.
For some reason that I yet don’t know and may only learn in Heaven the depression that plagued my parents, my biological father, and my wife did not plague me. Only God could have saved me from the darkness of depression and brought me into the life that is truly life. I know this is not the case for many who love Jesus greatly yet still struggle mightily with depression. I don’t know why God spared me; possibly the old saying applies to me “God only gives you as much as you can handle.” I don’t know but I do know two things:
- God can do what we think is impossible. “But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
- Through God’s love, mercy and grace He got me through this time.
I know that depression could still affect me in the future, but I am grateful it has not up until this point in my life.
How has God powered you through the most difficult times in your life?